Choe, Leverett Golden Once Again to Close National Junior Olympic Championships

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colorado (April 24, 2018)

The headline may sound familiar, but don’t be mistaken -  Sarah Choe and Jack Leverett III have done it again, climbing to the top of the podium once more at the National Junior Olympic Shooting Championships (NJOSC) today at the Olympic Shooting Center.

Choe (Los Angeles, California) won gold today in the Women’s Air Pistol event. She also claimed the Women’s Sport Pistol title on Sunday. Choe’s two-day Qualification score of 1123 was a dominant 17-points higher than her closest competitor, Kellie Foster (Rockdale, Texas), who would go on to win the silver medal.

And though she finished second in the Final (additional points were added to the Qualification score based on position in the Final – eight for first place, seven for second and so on), Katelyn Abeln (Douglasville, Georgia) won the bronze medal.

“I think most of the people struggled at this match,” said Choe, noting the physical exhaustion of competing for four-days straight. “Especially those of us that also competed in .22 right before this. I think the transition was tough. I felt it a lot. My trigger and grip are just so different.”

“I realized the scores were a lot lower than normal,” Abeln echoed. “I know that a lot of these people don’t normally shoot scores this low. For me, day one and two were really rough. I don’t even know how to explain it, but it felt like everyone was off.”

“But everyone tried their best and we all had a good time!” Foster said enthusiastically.

While the athletes competing at NJOSC had their sights set on earning NJOSC medals and National Junior Team nominations, they were also competing for the chance to represent the United States at the International Shooting Sport Federation (ISSF) World Championship August 31 – September 14 in Changwon, South Korea. For more information on World Championship Team selection procedures for Junior athletes, click here

“It’s like we’re getting the band back together!” Abeln said, noting that she, Choe and Foster won a team silver medal together in Women’s Air Pistol at the ISSF Junior World Championship last year in Germany. “And our team’s going to be even better this time around now that we’re adding Abbie to the mix.” Abbie Leverett won the bronze medal at NJOSC in Women’s Sport Pistol and will also compete at the World Championship.

In the men’s competition, Jack Leverett III (Bainbridge, Georgia) won the gold medal today in Men’s Sport Pistol. He also won the gold on Sunday in Men’s Air Pistol. But the déjà vu didn’t stop there as his brother, Henry, once again dueled off against him in the last two spots in the Final, with Henry Leverett claiming the silver medal today and Ryan Yi (Diamond Bar, California) winning the bronze. Henry Leverett also won a bronze medal in Men’s Air Pistol on Sunday.

As the results of this match were based on the cumulative score of two days of Qualification plus the additional points earned based on Finals finish, Yi and Henry Leverett were forced to a shootoff to decide medal placement. The pair tied with two hits apiece in the first series, but Henry Leverett would complete an additional three hits on the second series to claim the silver medal.

“I thought it went well, when I finished, it was just an exciting feeling!” Yi said.

Men’s Sport Pistol is contested at the state-Junior Olympic level, but is not an Olympic event so these medalists did not qualify for the World Championship Team, but did earn National Junior Team status. The rest of the competitors for the World Championship Team in the non-Olympic events (including Junior Men’s Sport Pistol) will be selected at the USA Shooting National Championships June 10-17 in Fort Benning, Georgia.

Everyone competing at the NJOSC had to earn the right to compete at this prestigious match – 53% of Women’s Air Pistol competitors and 74% of Men's Sport Pistol competitors nationally earned invitations, which were only sent to 763 athletes Rifle and Pistol athletes representing 49 states. About 200 Pistol athletes competed at this match.

Also new this year was the introduction of the National Junior Paralympics. The Paralympic Rifle match featured all competitors who shared the line during the Air Pistol events. Winning gold today in R5 (Mixed 10m Air Rifle Prone SH2) was Stetson Bardfield (Colorado Springs, Colorado). Winning silver was Gracie Hoyt (Mullen, Nebraska) and winning bronze was Moira Antal (Bealeton, Virginia). Finals were not contested in this match as there were not enough competitors.

The NJOSC features the top 32 percent of all competitors in 2018, including invitees that either won their state championship or were selected based on a score they attained.  These athletes were selected based on their finishes at the state-level Junior Olympic matches, which totaled 2,408 competitors. The competitors range in age from 10 to 20 years old, and are classified according to age as J1 (ages 18-20), J2 (ages 15-17) or J3 (ages 14 and younger).

Awards were also presented for the top finishers in the age categories. The J2 gold medalist in Women’s Air Pistol, Maria Tsarik (Lake Bluff, Illinois) also won today’s Final. The silver medalist was Crystal Kim (Hacienda Height, California) and the bronze medalist was Kaitlin Slaubaugh (Wolford, North Dakota). The J3 gold medalist was Angela Yi (Diamond Bar, California), the silver medalist was Clarissa Haltiwanger (Little Mountain, South Carolina) and the bronze medalist was the youngest competitor of the match at 11 years old, Annabell Yi (Diamond Bar, California).

The J2 gold medalist in Men’s Sport Pistol was Chase Jin (Fullerton, California), the silver medalist was Isaac Klejeski (Bemidji, Minnesota) and the bronze medalist was Devin DePamphilis (Harrisburg, Pennsylvania). The gold medalist in J3 was Paul Kang (Los Angeles, California) and the silver medalist was Christopher McDonald (Woburn, Massachusetts).

View complete results from the Pistol and Paralympic Rifle competition at NJOSC:

Though today was officially the last day of NJOSC, several male pistol athletes will spend two more days in Colorado Springs for the tryout for the Junior Rapid Fire Pistol athletes that will compete at the ISSF World Championship. Rapid Fire Pistol is an Olympic event at the adult level and a World Championship event at the Junior level as well. It is not, however, contested at the state-Junior Olympic level. Finals for this event will take place Thursday afternoon.

Learn more about NJOSC:

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